Woman, Behold Your Son

By Maria Theresa C. Gayondato

‘Matet’ Gayondato is from Lutopan, Toledo City, Cebu, and is a member of the Teresian Association. She has worked in Italy for many years, first in Milan, then in Palermo, Sicily, and now in Perugia.

‘Woman, behold your son.’ These were the words spoken by Father Agostino Awoyemi when he introduced to me to my future godson, Jacques Hippolyte Temdemnou Yetgang, a native of Cameroon and an engineering student in Perugia, Italy. It all started that day, 6 January 2009, the feast of the Epiphany. The French- and English-speaking Sunday Mass communities in Perugia were gathered for the despedida party of Father Agostino who was returning to Nigeria, his native country. A few days before his departure Father Agostino mentioned that he he had been following up a young man for baptism for some time already and that he thought of entrusting him to me before going home.

Jacques David with Fr Alessio Corradino

In the beginning I thought I only had the responsibility of accompanying him on his journey towards baptism and to see how his preparation was going. Months later, when Jacques asked me to be his godmother, once again God revealed himself to me as the God of wonders and surprises. His ways are indeed infinite, knowing no bounds. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:9). It had never occurred to me that I could be a godmother in an adult baptism.

with Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Città della Pieve

Being such was especially significant for me who received the sacrament as a baby for I rediscovered and renewed my own baptism in this period of preparation of not one but two young persons I personally knew. The other, Inxhina, from Albania, was a student staying in our university residence in Perugia, who chose Miryam as her baptismal name. Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia administered the sacraments of initiation of eight adults during the Easter Vigil this year..

Inxhina, right, with her godmother who is also a TA member.

It was a gift, a privilege, to witness the birth of David into the family of God. Jacques personally chose David as his baptismal name. The experience of King David as a sinner and how God revealed to him his mercy and forgiveness really struck him during the period of his catechesis. He had a very strong personal experience of God’s mighty hand liberating him. These words from Exodus 20, ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage’, filled every fiber of his inner self. This changed his life so much that in an encounter with a group of young people when he was asked to give his own testimony he exclaimed ‘NEVER AGAIN I WILL BE A SLAVE OF ANYBODY, BECAUSE I AM GOD’S CHILD!’

A group of IT youth in the Cathedral of San Constanzo, Perugia, after the Easter vigil.

It’s truly amazing to witness how far and deep the saving love of the God work can be in people’s lives. To Him be praise!

You may email Matet at gayondato2000@yahoo.it

The Sacraments of Initiation

The three sacrmanets of initiation, referred to in the article of Matet Gayondato, are baptims, confirmation and First Holy Communion. In the Latin or roman Rite of the Catholic Church, to which most of us belong, baptism is usually received during infancy, confirmation around the end of elementary school and First Holy Communion around the age of seven. In the Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church and in the Orthodox Churches baptism and confirmation are normally given together in infancy. In the Latin or Roman Rite when those who have reached the age of reason are being baptised they are confirmed in the same ceremony. If this takes place during Mass they make their First Holy Communion during that.

Though not common in the Philippines, many adults are received into the Church during the Easter Vigil, which is the most appropriate occasion. They are baptised and confirmed and then receive their First Holy Communion during the Vigil, as did the two friends of Matet Gayondato. Those already baptised, eg, Protestants, are received into the Chruch without baptism but receive confirmation and then make their First Holy Communion.

You can read more about these three sacraments in Wikipedia. The article there has links to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.